The most reliable way to diagnose ehrlichiosis is to identify the infective bacterial organisms in a dog’s blood. Routine blood work, which includes a complete blood count and a serum biochemistry profile, will not identify these bacteria. However, they can be useful to identify low circulating levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and/or platelets. A number of specialized blood tests are available to identify the particular parasites that are causing the dog’s disease. Some of these – especially early screening tests - can be done at the local veterinary clinic. If a dog tests positive on a screening test, samples of its blood probably will be sent to an outside laboratory for more advanced confirmatory evaluation. Bone marrow aspirates can also be taken and submitted to a laboratory, although this procedure is a bit more invasive. The dog’s veterinarian is the best person to discuss these diagnostic tests with the dog’s owner.
More specific and sensitive diagnostic tests are being developed to help veterinarians diagnose ehrlichiosis in dogs.